HOA's Explained Downtown Fort Worth
Downtown Fort Worth Condominiums and the HOA
Picture this: you’re living a serene, peaceful existence in a beautiful condo in downtown Fort Worth. The common areas are immaculate, the elevators are always clean, and the grounds are pristine. It’s downtown living at its finest. Almost.
In moves the one neighbor who is giving the building a black eye. Laundry hanging from the balcony railing, the door painted mustard yellow, and loud music playing at all hours of the day and night. Peace and quiet are a memory.
Homeowners Associations (HOAs) were invented for situations just like this. Among other things, they’re designed to protect you from the bad neighbor who is seemingly trying to do their best to bring down the value of your condo.
What exactly is an HOA? What am I paying for? Is it worth it? What should I avoid? All of these are good questions we’ll be addressing, and more.
What is an HOA?
An HOA is an organization formed to make and enforce rules that apply to multiple-unit buildings like condos, townhomes, and single-family planned communities. When you buy a property with an HOA, you automatically become a member.
As a member, you agree to abide by all of the rules and regulations and to pay your HOA fees on time. An HOA usually stipulates its rules and regulations in a document called a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R).
Condo HOAs are known to have the most restrictive rules of any type of HOA, including townhomes and neighborhoods. Their rules cover everything from where you’re allowed to park to what color window treatments are acceptable, and whether or not holiday decorations can be displayed in your front windows or entryways.
As a member of the HOA, you’ll have voting rights and can vote on who serves on your condo’s board of directors – the people that manage HOA finances and enforce the CC&R.
The board is made up of volunteer condo owners that are interested in overseeing your building and its operations. They’re given authority to handle the day-to-day operations of your community, including managing finances, maintaining common areas, enforcing rules and regulations, collecting HOA payments, and creating the annual budget.
The HOA will also manage any swimming pools, fitness centers, storage units, or parking garages associated with your building. The board has a lot of responsibilities, and a lot of authority. Your condo’s board can be a blessing or a curse, so you’ll want to choose wisely when you vote for board members.
What Do Your Fees Pay For?
Some HOAs for condos in downtown Fort Worth provide more varied and extensive services than other HOAs, and you’ll pay accordingly. Most HOAs cover the following basic services and manage the costs associated with these services:
- Maintenance of Common Areas: This includes lawn care and landscaping, fitness and business centers, the general upkeep of any common buildings, and other general building maintenance functions.
- City Services: Trash removal for the building, as well as water and electric for common areas is usually covered. Your HOA fees will include water and sewer services in some buildings, but not all.
- Pest Control: Regular treatments and inspections from a pest control company should be covered by your HOA fees.
- Insurance: Insurance for common areas is paid for by the HOA. This insurance will only cover damage to the building itself and the surrounding property. As an individual condo owner, you’re still required to have your own property and casualty insurance covering the interior of your condo and your personal property.
These basic services will normally be found with every condominium building in downtown Fort Worth. Some of the more exclusive properties may also include:
- Operational costs for any onsite amenities, such as spas, gyms, or clubhouses
- The cost of hiring and maintaining security services
You will, of course, pay higher HOA fees if these services are included for your building.
In addition to covering basic services, the HOA board needs to plan for emergencies and large-scale projects. For this reason, about 2/3 of your HOA fees will go towards maintenance and the rest will be allocated to a reserve fund.
Some associations will collect fees annually, but many will charge monthly because it is more convenient for the budgeting of unit owners and it allows the HOA to adjust fees more regularly without requiring special assessments for minor issues.
Typical HOA Fees
HOA fees depend on a variety of factors. These include:
- Where your unit is located: some areas have more expensive labor costs or require more maintenance
- The size of your unit: smaller units will normally pay a lower rate than larger units with more bedrooms in the same building
- How old the building is: older buildings will normally require more maintenance
- The amenities offered
Unlike many housing related costs like mortgage interest and property taxes that are deductible from your income tax, HOA fees are not usually deductible if you reside in the unit because they’re a third party assessment.
Comparing HOA Fees
HOA fees are going to vary widely between condos and buildings in downtown Fort Worth and it can be challenging to make a simple comparison. You’ll need to weigh the value of the amenities against the dollar amount you’re willing to pay each month, or each year, for the added conveniences.
There are some standard questions you should ask the HOA before you decide to buy a particular condo. These questions will give you a good idea of what your regular dues cover, and just how likely it is that they’ll rise in the future.
- What services are covered by your HOA dues?
- Are there any services for which you have to pay extra?
- Does the association generate any income, such as shared laundry facilities, parking garages, or leased retail space? (If the HOA is generating revenue from an outside source, this can significantly reduce your annual dues).
- How are fee increases implemented, at regular intervals or as needed?
- How often do increases occur, and by what percentage?
- Can the HOA provide a history of rate increases for the past ten years? (This gives you the opportunity to track the averages of rate hikes).
- What is the current status of the HOA’s reserve fund?
- Are any special assessments planned for the immediate future?
- What is the HOA’s history of special assessments? (A long history could indicate poor management by the HOA’s board of directors).
- How does the HOA deal with delinquent owners? (If they don’t have a suitable policy in place that allows them to enforce the collection of dues, your fees could be increased to cover those losses).
Your goal with these questions is to get an indication that the HOA’s board is managing the property responsibly, that regular dues are proportionate with the amenities provided, and that special assessments are kept to a minimum.
The Pros and Cons of Living in an HOA
Some people absolutely love their HOA, while others feel they receive no value for their dues. Like anything, HOAs have their pluses and minuses. Let’s look at each.
Most associations have gyms, pools, clubhouses, and other fun amenities that you wouldn’t be able to afford on your own. These shared common areas are a big advantage if you use them.
Having a board of directors is also a benefit of living in an HOA. Your board makes sure that the property is attractive and well-maintained. Because of this, condos in HOA buildings typically enjoy higher and more stable property values.
There are strict rules and regulations imposed by the HOA that you’ll have to abide by. You can receive violation notices and fines for not following them.
This can be a strain on your expenses, especially if the HOA isn’t properly managing the community.
Learn About Your HOA in Advance
Because you’re paying a handsome amount for dues each month to belong to your HOA, it’s wise to know as much as possible about it before your move in. Make sure you get to speak to your HOA representative in advance and ask them how much it costs to belong, how often the rates go up, how many people are on the board, and how long the terms are. Learn as much as you can about the HOA, because once you’re a member you’re stuck with each other until you move!
David Pannell and Cities Real Estate Know Downtown Fort Worth Condos and HOAs
There are about as many HOAs in downtown Fort Worth as there are condominium buildings. David can help you navigate the sea of listings and, at the same time, help you learn about the HOA for the particular building(s) your interested in. No two buildings are alike nor are any two associations; David helps makes sense of it all to help you make the best decision for your new condo.
David has experience working with Texas & Pacific Lofts Condos, Westview Condos, Tower Residential Condos, Omni Residences, Villa de Leon Condos, and many more downtown and uptown condos and townhomes in Fort Worth.
David has helped families with their real estate needs for over fifteen years. Specializing in Tarrant County's most desirable neighborhoods, David is a former United States Marine and City of Arlington police officer. He is a realtor you can trust to help you find your treasure in Downtown Fort Worth or sell your home as you begin the next chapter in life. Contact David today at (817) 797-9047.
NTREIS data last updated April 22, 2021.